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35 Uses for a Bandana In A Crisis




A bandana sits right at the top of my list of often overlooked survival gear. It is another one of those items that has hundreds of improvised uses but only if you have the right mindset for it..

Bandana’s weigh a fraction of an ounce, they are dirt cheap, and are also a must have in your survival gear.

I’ve come up with my own ideas (and pulled some from a few different sources online) that showcase just how useful this piece of cotton can be.

Here is just a short list of possible uses for a bandana: (*Update* Thanks for pointing out the doubles to me I removed them from the list)

1. Signal (Brightly colored works best)

2. Neck Gaiter for cold weather

3. Tourniquet

4. Pot Holder

5. Collecting Wild Edibles

6. Sun protection for your neck

7. Sling (First-aid)

8. Sling (Weapon)

9. Friend/foe identification ( Gangs use them all the time to identify each other)

10. Cordage (cut into strips or used as is)

11. Washcloth/Towel

12. Sweatband

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13. Waist pack/pouch

14. Hobo Pack

15. Padding a hotspot to keep from blistering

16. Cleaning Patches for Firearm

17. Gun Wipe Cloth (with oil)

18. Protection from foul odors ( add a few drops of essential oil)

19. Toilet Paper

20. Trail Marker

21. Dish Rag

22. Napkin

23. Water Filter (takes out large contaminants)

24. Clean Glasses and other lens

25. Ear Muffs

26. Bind a stone and toss a line over a limb

27. Dust Mask or smoke mask depending on the situation

28. Wet and wear in hot weather to keep you cool

29. Sneezing

30. Improvised Bandage

31. Noise Reducer (wrap your gear to keep it from rattling in your pack)

32. Improvised Eye Patch
34. Cloth Diaper for a child

34. As a net to catch minnows and other bait

35. Camp markers (tear into four pieces and mark trees surrounding your camp site)

It is always a good idea to carry a bandana with you, they take up no weight and have a lot of uses (provided you are creative enough to figure them out)

Check out this one I found that has survival tips printed on it:


Can you think of any other uses I may have missed?

Want more? Check out these articles for other surprising uses of items that you need to know about.

5 Surprising Survival Uses for a Tampon

5 Uses for Epsom Salt in Your Garden

9 Survival Uses for an Empty Pill Bottle

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  1. Albert

    August 9, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    I always told my sons in case of an emergency or they got separated to put them on there head – this will make it easier for me to spot them.

    • JOE

      August 9, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      35 pot holder twice

  2. Dick Boone

    August 9, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    You only got 36. You got eye patch twice numbers 23 & 34.

    • dale

      August 9, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      Pot holder is also on there twice.

  3. michael

    August 9, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    Char cloth. Please note eye patch is duplicated at 23 and 34 in your list.

  4. Nick

    August 9, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    Keep the tips coming, here’s a few more i found.

    1. Emergency TP
    2. Collecting Dew for Water
    3. Dust Mask – works best slightly moistened
    4. Improvised sunglasses. Tie around face and poke small holes for viewing through – limits sun exposure. Great for when snow is on the ground to prevent snow blindness.

  5. Varian Wrynn

    August 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    What I use it almost every day: Head cooler. Similar to #12 & 29, but don’t roll it up – put it on like a dew rag. This works best if you have little or no insulation on your head (AKA hair). As your scalp sweats, the bandana wicks away the moisture and it evaporates. As water evaporates, it takes energy out of whatever it is touching (latent heat of vaporization). Since 30% of your body heat can be lost through your head, the bandana keeps your head cool and therefore your body cool.

    It works to retain heat as well by shielding your dome from the cold.

  6. Jack Lamb

    August 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Forgot about being used as a gag!

  7. EarlySquirrel

    August 9, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    “Real” bandanas from my early days measured 36″ by 36″ and were intended to have multiple uses. In our family we used them regularly for many of those purposes listed. But I’ve not been able to find “real” ones for twenty years, just those imitations of about half that size, inferior weak cloth, and bleeding dye. Anyone know of a source for the genuine original? I’d buy a dozen or two right away, I miss them so much. Now I get by with good quality cotton bed sheets cut and hemmed to the old size.

    • Susie

      August 9, 2013 at 5:16 PM has 35″ and 36″ sizes.

    • Old Soldier

      August 10, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      36×36 bandannas can be found at the Cowboy clothing sites that cater to SASS and such. Silk can be pricy but the cotton one’s are even heavier than the old triangular bandages we use for neckerchiefs in VN before someone woke up and started issueing knit ones. They are more reasonable. If you have a sewing machine and iron, buy thin cotton material of your choice and sew them.

    • Bruce

      August 11, 2013 at 8:44 AM

      Boy Scout neckerchief, you can get at any Boy Scout store. Also this is a place for some good equipment.

    • Kathryn

      August 23, 2013 at 5:52 AM

      You could always make your own.

  8. michelle

    August 9, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    I have tons of bandanas. I tie them on the head rests of my suv. Most think I do it because I like the way they look, but they are there to be used for anything that comes up. I have pulled one off while driving to lay on my left arm to shield from sun, preventing drivers arm sunburn. I also use to bind up long hair when starting or cooking in a fire.

  9. Thomas-Avery Blair

    August 9, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Also can be used over your face to keep out light if you just got off your watch and need some ZZZ time; also as cover for a blind window (if you get the right “camo” colors, that is); also a carry pouch tied to a “walking stick”; temporary and inexpensive “camo” cover for emergency food or ammunition cache in the woods; also as a barter item when you learn it is more productive to trade commodities in commerce than in combat (sometimes). Please do update your list and consider the items I and others have suggested for uses of bandana, up to and including the advantages of color (camo, for example) and not-too-bad-an-idea for barter purposes.

  10. Jim

    August 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    you have pot holder listed twice #4 and #31 is one for cooking and the other for smoking ?

  11. martha

    August 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    also, pot holder is #4 and #31. still, a very good list, and I liked the comment about using bedsheet squares.

  12. Sherm

    August 9, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    How many times can you use a bandana as toilet paper, and what can it be used for afterward. I think I’ll just take some toilet paper, it goes farther, works better, and likely has 37 other uses as well.

    • Chuck

      August 9, 2013 at 9:29 PM

      Wash it after use.

    • RevScottU

      August 10, 2013 at 6:39 PM

      Sherm, I’d stick to using it as a water filter BEFORE tp duty

  13. Mike138

    August 9, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    You forgot snott rag/face cleaner for your kids. I also use one to stick in the out feed side of my rifle scope. While I have it slung over my shoulder it keeps snow and rain out of there.

  14. Crowdoe

    August 9, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Pot Holder is also used twice #4 and #31

  15. manmadeinamerica

    August 9, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    You only have 35. Pot holder and eye patch are both listed twice. There are all kinds of uses for these versitile rags. They can be used as a tie down and a flag for an over length load, depending on the size of the bandana. 🙂

  16. Rich Riva

    August 9, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Can be used to hold ice, as a cold pack, for injuries.

  17. GD

    August 9, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Doused with vinegar, and placed over your nose and mouth. This will get you out of a situation when tear gas or mase is used. It acts as a temporary gas mask. Of course, you need to carry of find vinegar somewhere…

    • GD

      August 9, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      Also, use it to make Char Cloth, in a tin can with a lid in hot coals etc… Start your fire with the Char Cloth.

  18. Poly Ester

    August 9, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    It can be used for an ice pack, that is if you have access to ice in an emergency. On campouts I have put ice in a ziplock bag and then tied it into place with a bandana for sprained ankles. Even without the ziplock it works pretty good.

  19. Sandy Baer

    August 9, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    Put all your favorite stuff in center. Tie corners together and insert end of pole. Sling over shoulder and run away from home.


    August 9, 2013 at 5:43 PM


  21. John R

    August 9, 2013 at 9:15 PM

    To be used as a signal, white is defiantly easier to see that a colored one. As far as what I use one for, I blow my nose with it…

  22. Chuck

    August 9, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    If you are near a Japanese store, they sometimes sell a cloth called furoshiki. The Japanese have used square cloths to carry loads for centuries. They come in all sizes and weight of cloth from a small dainty, fancy colored cloth to wrap a gift in to large canvass squares for carrying really heavy loads. If you look at some of the wood block prints of workers in Japan, look at what they are carrying. If it is a cloth wrapped around whatever the load is it is a furoshiki.

    Basically you put the item you want to carry in the middle, fold diagonally opposite corners over then the other two diagonally opposite corners and tie the four ends together. The Japanese use a special knot to tie the furoshiki and I can’t help you out with that, but two square knots ought to do the trick.

  23. ron

    August 9, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    some very good ideas, I have to get afew good quality one’s.
    hey chuck, thanks for the tip on one of the places to buy them.


    joe thanks for your site and all that you do.

  24. Mikaay

    August 10, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    One might make decent kindling after using it as toilet paper. Might even burn longer! 10 of them tied together could make a decent rope or tether. If floating on wreckage at sea one might become a makeshift sail. One could be very effective as a candle wick, alcohol lamp wick or that of a maltoff cocktail. Pack one with rocks and swing it as a modern day mace for defense, or remove rocks and use it against insects fly swatter style! And this is reaching but perhaps as a last resort canteen saturated in water and sucked on down the road to at least extend that last sip of water as far as possible. And finally as a mask during stagecoach of bank robberies “Jesse James” style! or just to prevent being recognized in any situation you would rather not be recognized in. How bout to prevent being recognized (while walking down the street minding your own business) by any of the many cameras that will film you just about anywhere these days, or by satellites!
    Or to disguise your voice by covering the phone receiver and muffling the voice, or use one as a fishing pole for a dumb fish by either attaching line to the end of one or as the actual fishing line in the case of the dumb fish that thinks it’s normal to have food delivered via red bandana fishing line with a plastic frisbee carved hood tied onto it.
    I could probably keep coming up with things but I think we all get the picture!
    It would be great if it could be used as a defense against planet X, which would be very good to have in about 2 years or so, and that should also be added to one’s personal risk factor assessment, no matter where you are on Earth. That’s gonna make all disaster havoc possibilities, a planetary problem! Good luck everyone!

  25. VinDizel

    August 12, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    You can use an empty wet bandana to snap into the eyes of a thug, either to distract or to temporarily blind the SOB. If someone has a way to fill it with powered soap to fling into the eyes of an assailant, that would be good…assuming the wind is not blowing toward you

  26. kenny

    August 16, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    can be used to hang meat from a tree limb at night so critters don’t get it

  27. Mona

    August 18, 2013 at 1:22 AM

    Two tied together, and knotted behind the neck make a halter top for us ladies.

  28. Bandana Frank

    August 23, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    …and here is a good way how to tie a Bandana 🙂

  29. Pingback: 36 Survival Uses Of A Bandana

  30. Dave

    October 30, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    Great article on all the ways to use the ubiquitous bandana. But I’ve always felt that if the bandana was just a bit larger it would be even more useful. So I started selling a much larger version, about 42X42 inches square. That is about 4 times the size of the standard 22X22 inch bandana. I call it the Hobo Hanky because it is modeled on the traditional kerchief that was carried by cowboys and hobos. In fact, it makes a great hobo bindle. My web site is and I have a list of uses as well as photos.

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